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Hantavirus: Precautions for Prevention

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, is an infectious disease caused by a virus carried by several types of rodents, particularly the deer mouse. You become infected primarily by breathing air infected with Hantaviruses that are shed in rodent urine and droppings.

What is Hantavirus Pulmonary syndrome?

It is a rare but severe infection caused by the virus present in rodents. If left untreated, the infection can spread rapidly and cause severe breathing problems. The symptoms of Hantavirus infections are similar to the flu and can worsen very quickly in just a few days.

There is no vaccine or cure available yet, and the best protection is to avoid places where rodents live. The earlier the infection is diagnosed, the better are the patient’s chances of recovering.

What are the visible symptoms of Hantavirus?

Hantavirus infection advances in two stages. In the first stage, the signs and symptoms resemble that of the flu. It may be difficult to distinguish the infection from pneumonia, influenza, and other viral infections. The initial symptoms include:

Headache

● Fever

● Chills

● Diarrhea

● Vomiting

● Abdominal pain

In the second stage, the symptoms get severe; these include:

● Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

● Low blood pressure

● Secretions produced through cough like postnasal drainage

● Presence of fluid in the lungs

● Reduced heart efficiency

If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately visit a doctor.

When to visit a doctor?

The symptoms of Hantavirus worsen rapidly. It may also become life-threatening very quickly. If you notice any of the Hantavirus symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing, chills, diarrhea, or muscle aches, or have been exposed to wild rodent droppings, seek immediate medical care.

Since there is no vaccine for the condition yet, an early diagnosis may alleviate better yourthe chances of your recovery and survival.

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What are the causes of the Hantavirus?

Hantavirus is caused by many different types of viruses carried by wild rodents. The primary carrier is the deer mouse. Other types of carriers are the rice rat, cotton rat, and white-tailed mouse.

The primary transmission of this virus is through aerosols; People often get infected catch the virus through aerosolization – by inhaling the infected air. After you inhale the virus, it reaches your lungs and attacks the blood vessels. Eventually, it causes them to leak, and your lungs fill up with fluid. This can lead to many respiratory problems associated with the Hantavirus.

Can Hantavirus be prevented?

Keeping rodents away from your workplace and home is a preventive measure you can try to avoid getting infected with the Hantavirus. Here are a few tips for keeping the rodents away:

● Use food containers

Keep your food, including your pet’s food, in rodent-free containers. Clean counters and floors regularly. Use tight lids for the garbage cans.

● Block access

Mice can squeeze in through holes of about 6 millimeters wide as well. Block any holes or breakages in your house or workplace walls.

● Set traps

Use spring-loaded traps to catch rodents at your home or workplace. Be cautious while using poison-bait traps and keep it away from pets and children.

What are the risk factors associated with Hantavirus?

People who live, work, or play in areas where rodents live are at a higher risk of developing Hantavirus infections . These are some of the factors that can increase your risk:

● Housecleaning in attics or low-traffic areas

● Cleaning long and unused sheds or buildings

● Having a workspace or home infested with rodents

● Working where exposure to rodents is higher such as pest control or utility work

● Camping, hunting, or hiking

What complications can arise if the condition is left untreated?

The symptoms of Hantavirus progress rapidly. If left untreated, the condition can become life-threatening. Once your lungs start to fill up with the fluid, breathing becomes difficult, and organs start to fail, and blood pressure starts dropping. with the dropping of blood pressure.

If you notice any of these symptoms, get yourself checked immediately. The chances of recovery are better when diagnosed early.

How is Hantavirus diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Hantavirus infections can get a little tricky since the symptoms resemble other viral infections. Visit your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms. Your doctor will perform a blood test to confirm the diagnosis of the Hantavirus.

Your doctor may perform several other tests to rule out the possibility of other medical conditions or diseases.

What are the treatment options available for the Hantavirus?

There is no vaccine or cure. But with an early diagnosis, immediate hospitalization, and adequate support for breathing, your prognosis would be good.

● Supportive therapy

If you develop the Hantavirus infection, you will be kept in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital. To manage pulmonary edemahelp with the fluid in your lungs and support your breathing, you may be provided with mechanical ventilation or intubation for the proper functioning of the trachea.

For intubation, a breathing tube will be placed through your nose or mouth into the windpipe to help keep your airways functioning.

● Blood oxygenation

In severe cases, an ECMO – extracorporeal membrane oxygenation may be used. This is to maintain a sufficient amount of oxygen supply in your body. Your blood will be pumped through a machine to remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen. Then, the oxygenated blood is returned to your body.

Summing it up

Since there is no vaccine for hantavirus as of now, prevention is the cure. Keep your surroundings clean and practice good hygiene. If you notice any of the symptoms related to Hantavirus, immediately visit a hospital and get yourself checked. The sooner you get medical care for hantavirus infections , the better will be your chances of an easy recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do people survive Hantavirus infections ?

Since there is no cure yet, the sooner you get intensive care, the better are your chances of survival. If you notice early symptoms or have had a rodent exposure, get yourself checked immediately.

2. Do all mice carry the Hantavirus?

Only certain kinds of rats and mice carry the Hantavirus, and they are the deer mouse, cotton rat, rice rat, and white-tailed mouse. However, not every deer mouse, cotton rat, rice rat, and white-tailed mouse carries the Hantavirus.

3. Is the Hantavirus contagious from person to person?

Studies have revealed that people infected by the North American strain of the Hantavirus are not contagious. However, some outbreaks in South America showed evidence of transmission of the Hantavirus from one person to another. It suggests variation across strains in different regions.

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